Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang can be seen driving (and not driving) a Tesla Model X in a new campaign spot.
- During the commercial, Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang speaks about automation as a threat to jobs, and he highlights his experience as a job creator.
- The ad concludes with a shot of the Tesla using parking itself, right before a standard disclaimer about approving the message.
- Using a Tesla in the spot seemingly shows Yang as a candidate that supports technology, even as he explains how it has driven people to vote for Trump.
Candidate Yang delivers his message about the dangers of automation while driving a Tesla, embracing the contradictions of the emerging economy. (Video: YouTube)
Automation eliminating jobs
While other presidential candidates are anchoring their messages on healthcare and the environment, Andrew Yang is taking a different route. He’s building his platform on the economy and creating jobs for the future. (He does have a strong stance on the crucial need to reduce emissions immediately and a Medicare For All plan.) Back in 2017, Yang jumped into the presidential race because he saw automation destroying jobs and entire regions left behind.
A former corporate lawyer and the son of immigrants, Yang made his fortune at various startups and early stage growth companies as a founder or executive. After a decade as an executive at test preparation company Manhattan Prep, he retired from corporate life when it was bought out in 2009.
On his campaign website, Yang discusses how automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will displace many more people from jobs. And some of those professions might surprise you. He gives examples about how computers are already doing a better job in medicine and the legal world. Even artists are at risk to being supplanted by a machine.
Yet in his ad, Yang specifically chose to drive a Tesla and highlight its autonomous capabilities. The last few seconds of the spot show Yang’s car autonomously pulling into a driveway to park. Is this a contradiction to his warning about automation?
Andrew Yang’s campaign platform emphasizes the importance of STEM education. (Photo: Getty Images)
Making a statement with a Tesla
As much as Yang decries the dangers of automation, he also embraces its capabilities to make our lives smoother and more convenient. We see the benefits of advancing technology all over the mobility industry. For example, Ford is leveraging data to optimize city transit systems and a new chip with deep learning (AI) promises to improve the safety of autonomous vehicles.
To combat automation and a shifting economy, Yang emphasizes the need for strong STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education. With this base, those entering the workforce will have skills that are relevant in the job market. Those could include engineering a flying car, creating “walking” car seats, or advancing sound dampening technology, while improving vehicle efficiency.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk must have enjoyed seeing presidential candidate Andrew Yang driving around in a Tesla in one of his campaign spots. (Photo: Tesla)
Making an impact
Yang knows a thing or two about creating jobs. In 2011, he founded Venture for America (VFA), a nonprofit organization, which recruits top college graduates into a two-year fellowship program at startups in developing cities across the United States. Yang was inspired to establish VFA to create jobs in cities struggling to recover from the financial meltdown due to the subprime mortgage crisis that hit late 2007.
For his efforts, Yang was recognized by the Obama administration as a “Champion of Change“, an initiative to highlight Americans who have made an impact in their communities and helped “our country rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century.” In addition, he was tapped by President Obama to be part of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE). A collaborative advisory group founded in 2014, the prime directive was to foster the business startup culture in the United States.
Another element of Yang’s platform is that he would provide a $1,000 a month Freedom Dividend to every adult in the U.S. With that money, Yang hopes to give Americans the cushion they need to start new businesses – and those could very well include goods and services that improve our mobility options.
WHY THIS MATTERS
In choosing to drive a Tesla in his campaign ad, Yang demonstrates that he supports advancements in technology, while also preparing to take on the employment (and environmental) challenges ahead.